Algae Building: Is This the New Smart Sustainable Technology?

  • Sara J. WilkinsonEmail author
  • Peter J. Ralph
  • Nimish Biloria
Part of the S.M.A.R.T. Environments book series (SMARTE)


Building energy use contributes around 40% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (UNEP F, Fiduciary responsibility: Legal and practical aspects of integrating environmental, social and governance issues into institutional investment. NEP FI, Geneva, 2009, September) and reducing building-related GHG emissions could mitigate global warming significantly. With a three degree increase in global temperature by 2100 predicted by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change we need to explore ways to mitigate these impacts. An option for the built environment is to build and retrofit using innovative technologies to adopt onsite energy generation and reduce energy use (UN 2015). Increasing energy efficiency and using renewable energy are ways to reduce GHG emissions.

Technological innovations change over time, and innovations that start as expensive and inefficient can become economic and highly productive, solar energy is an example. In the mid 1800s the photovoltaic (PV) effect was discovered but it took a century to invent a suitable storage device, after which rapid innovation in efficiency and costs followed. Could the same happen for bio-energy? Global biomass energy production reached 88 GW in 2014 (Rosillo-Calle F, de Groot P, Hemslock SL, Woods J: The biomass assessment handbook, 2nd edn. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-138-01965-2, 2016); and bio-energy is no longer a transition energy source. In 2013, a residential building in Hamburg Germany adopted algae, as a renewable energy source. Several questions arise; how does algae produce energy for buildings? How much energy is produced? How does it compare to other renewable energy sources? Furthermore, which building types are suited to adoption of algae as an energy source? This chapter explores the feasibility of algae building technology explaining the technology and how it works; the strengths and weaknesses. Then the chapter sets out the drivers and barriers to adopting Algae Building Technology, and; to assesses opportunities across a range of building types.


Algae building technology Solar thermal energy Biomass Climate change Technical issues Design issues Architecture 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sara J. Wilkinson
    • 1
    Email author
  • Peter J. Ralph
    • 2
  • Nimish Biloria
    • 3
  1. 1.Faculty of Design Architecture and Building, School of BuildingUniversity of Technology SydneySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Faculty of Science, C3University of Technology SydneySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Faculty of Design Architecture and Building, School of ArchitectureUniversity of Technology SydneySydneyAustralia

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